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SCC shop students will start your engines

There were about 10 lawn mowers in various stages of repair in the St. Croix Central High School shop classroom on Wednesday morning. That's how they like it.

This year, the small engines class has accepted lawn mowers and other small engines in need of tuning up from the community.

The class has existed for quite some time but only advertised to school faculty, said instructor Bill Emery. This is the first year they've told the community and opened the doors.

"It's the school policy. We want to do more service learning," Emery stated.

A few riding mowers in the shop on Wednesday were obviously in need of some major repairs. Typically, the class doesn't work on big projects.

"They only do major repairs on their own stuff," Emery said.

Most of the mowers the class deals with are working, and just need a spring tune-up or winter close-out.

"They run but need to be set up for spring," Emery said. Students change the oil, sharpen the blades and other minimal maintenance.

They've had four lawn mowers come in from the community so far, Emery said. All the mowers were -- and still are -- in working condition when they arrived at the shop.

"Some people are probably nervous when its kids," Emery acknowledged. However, a lot of students have maintenance jobs like this out in the community already.

While many of the students come into the class with some small engine knowledge, Emery said he teaches from the very basics on up.

During the first quarter of the semester-long class, students have to take an engine apart and put it back together.

Now, in the second quarter, they are applying their knowledge to get their own or others' engines ready for spring.

The class operates as any other maintenance shop during the second quarter. The class votes on a foreman to be in charge of intake and assigning work.

This semester, the foreman is KC Matteson, a sophomore.

"KC blew away the stereotypical," Emery said with a smile. It's not often a cheerleader is a shop foreman.

Matteson said she started working on engines about a year ago, when her dad decided it would be beneficial for her to know how to fix her own things.

"It's something you need to know how to do," Matteson explained.

Since taking on the foreman position, Matteson has learned how to hand out the work, and deal with different work styles.

"People run at different paces," she said.

Emery estimates the class will be able to handle five machines per week. Any small engines, like lawn mowers, tillers and snow blowers, are welcome. They'll only charge for the cost of materials, like oil, filters and any cleaners needed.

Machines may be dropped off at the shop on Wednesdays during the early morning or during the class period, from 10:50-11:30 a.m. Be sure to talk to someone so the proper paperwork gets filled out when leaving a machine.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call the Agriculture Department at 796-5383.